Gaming is going through an odd nostalgia for the ’90s right now, when all the games were macho, all the enemies were zombies, and what was most important was the gore system showing the blood spraying everywhere. Killing Floor 2 is a time capsule of those games in attitude, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in polish.
Killing Floor 2 (PS4, PC)
Tripwire doesn’t deliver absolute cutting edge graphics on the PS4 copy of the game we reviewed, but it does look pretty good for an indie title. Each level has a vivid color scheme and amusing snotty-humor touches like a burning Eiffel Tower in the Paris level. The enemies get a little repetitive, as there’s only a handful of them that you gun down in waves, and they largely grunt and growl the same way every time, over an amusingly appropriate soundtrack of, what else, snarling metal.
The wheel is not being reinvented, here. You choose a class, you get guns, you brace for waves of zombies, you shoot them in the face and blow them up with grenades, you weld doors shut, and you get a time limit between waves to spend the cash you somehow earned killing zombies. Or play as a zombie to try and eat your friends. It’s your fairly basic multiplayer zombie shooter.
That said, it’s a highly polished basic multiplayer zombie shooter. Killing Floor 2 spent more than a year in Early Access getting player feedback, and picking up the game, it shows. The level design is just tweaked enough that standing your ground is an option, but running and gunning is also necessary. Every gun feels different, every loadout has a different strategy tied to it, and getting the hang of all of them is quite a bit of fun. You can also use each of them effectively solo and with a group, which is a heck of an achievement in balance. Tripwire’s level of polish here is something they should be proud of.
That said, it’s pretty easy to see people enjoying this game only for a little while before moving on. While there are plenty of areas to gun down zombies in, there isn’t really a lot of depth here. Unless you’ve got a set of friends who are really into the game, or really need that multiplayer co-op itch scratched, this might not last you longer than it takes to level up a class or two.
While there’s no DLC, and it appears that updates to the game are coming that will add more onto it, some may balk at the $40 price at the moment. That said, this could become a cult game among multiplayer fans, especially as Tripwire polishes it more over time.
How much does polish matter versus depth in video games? It’s an eternal question any critic worth a damn struggles with, and while I may only be worth a mild damn, it’s still a good question. In the end it boils down to how much you love multiplayer and whether you’ve got enough friends interested in this game to stick with it for the long haul. If you do, you likely won’t find a better zombie-splattering time this year.